NJ350Transitions and Connections: Celebrating Lenape Arts and Culture
Dr. Iveta Pirgova, Director of Education and Cultural Studies
The Down Jersey Folklife program at Wheaton Arts and Cultural center joins all regional folklife centers in New Jersey in the state-wide celebration of the 350th anniversary of our state. Diversity is one of New Jersey’s most significant and valuable characteristics. The State’s many geographic and demographic settings are interwoven with ethnic, cultural and occupational networks, creating a dynamic array of communities. With them, folk and traditional arts are valued for their ability to express identity and strengthen group ties. State-wide programs include publications on “Communities, Traditions, Cultures”, traveling displays as well as exhibitions, performances and educational activities designed to feature local traditions and cultures.
Transitions and Connections: Celebrating Lenape Arts and Culture in South Jersey highlights the history and cultural heritage of the oldest and yet still not well known Native American community in South Jersey. This is a partnership project between WheatonArts and the Lenape tribe in South Jersey as represented by its organization – Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of NJ. It reflects a commitment to programming that celebrates, educates and unites communities to promote tolerance and deep respect for artistic and cultural diversity.
Members of the Lenape tribe reside in several counties of South Jersey but the majority are in the Bridgeton Area of Cumberland county. Centuries ago there were several Lenape tribes residing in the land of nowadays New Jersey, which were later called by the European settlers “Delawares” combining in this name all people who lived along the Delaware River. Native Americans call themselves Lenape. which in their language means “The People.” The Lenape ancestors were among the first Native Americans to come in contact with the Europeans (Swedish, Dutch, andEnglish) in the early 1600s. They signed the first Indian treaty with the newly formed United States Government on September 17, 1778. Later on, through war and peace, the Lenape had to give up their lands and move westward. Some of the Lenape people, however, chose to stay and still live in their ancestral homeland in South Jersey. The tribal re-organization of the Lenape began in the late 60s and early 70s and in 1982, The New Jersey Senate passed “Concurrent Resolution No. 73,” which acknowledged the tribe as a confederation of Nanticoke and Lenape.
The continuing research and close relationships between WheatonArts and the Lenape tribal center will provide a rich resource for a new exhibition Our Story in Images and Artworks of the Lenape People (July 11 through November 2, 2014) that will reflect the Lenape vision of arts and history and will be on display at the Tribal Museum in Fairton. During the same time period workshops, classes and demonstrations focusing on traditional art forms of the Lenape will be offered at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center.
Save the Date:
Wentamewakani Kahesena Haki: Lenape Music, Dance and Craft
September 20, 2014, Event Center at WheatonArts